L'Interview Timbrée - 29 - Mark Webster

As you can see, our series of interviews is in perpetual evolution. We started it to learn more about our favourite artists, and as the list is quite long  - and not only includes French-speaking ones - we started to have the interview published in English. As we are not professional translators and that we think that the original version is always the best, we decided to publish today's interview only in English. In this way you can fully enjoy the artist's words in the original context, without any dodgy translation...

So, we welcome now Mark Webster, a type lover, a teacher, a processing-warrior, a strong defender of open source and above all a perpetual learner... In a few words, he is an inspiration to us all!


Dithering serie by Mark Webster for Maison Tangible


Your address (real or fake) as you want to read it on a postcard?

The Gallery
Our Beautiful Earth


On holiday, to give news to your loved ones, are you rather of the kind to send a postcard or MMS?

That’s easy. I often send postcards. We have a card culture in Britain with a strong penchant for funny ones. I find the sea-side resorts have the best and the corniest selections. Writing is a joyful activity. Phones are not my thing.



Dithering 01 / 03


Do you remember a post or postcard
that marked your life?

Receiving a letter from my student loans debt collecting agency threatening to take legal action if I didn’t cough up that rather large sum of money. That marked my life in a bad way. Those early years were best though - Valentine’s cards and hand-written love letters. Do the youth of today still do that? I recently received a small hand-written note from an editor of a small independent letter press journal called Double Dagger. It touched me to read such a personal note. That made my day. It’s the little personal things like these that can make such a difference I feel.



We fell in love with your typographic experiments. Can you tell us about your process, and about tools you’ve create to do it ?

I’m pleased to see that my little experiments have tickled your fancy. Ever since discovering Processing - a Java based programming environment - I’ve been writing little programs that have slowly taken shape over the years. My process is one long exploration with this medium of code. Recently, my work is focusing more and more on tool-making and how to teach this as an approach in the arts at large. It’s fun to make one’s own tools and I enjoy the technical challenges. It keeps me on my toes.



Type experiments by Mark


If you could see the universe of an artist in a collection of postcards or stamps, who would you choose?

That’s a tough one. Ok, I’m gonna be utterly egotistical here and say that I would have to choose me! Not that I have much of a universe to exploit but I’d sure as hell would love to work on stamps and postcards for the rest of my life. Add the design of the occasional reggae record sleeve in there too.



If you were to have an epistolary relationship with an idol, who would it be?

Idolising is just not my sort of thing. There are so many people out there from whom I’ve learnt so much and I continue to do so. It’s just not in my philosophy to pick out a single soul.



Dithering 02 / 03


Your most memorable journey?

This is a long story. But I’ll keep it very short. My most memorable journey started in a small village in south-west China in 1994. I set out on a mini bus crammed with local folk and live stock to endure a twelve hour climb into the foot hills of the Himalayas. After what can only be called a most eventful journey, and indeed a spectacle for the eyes, we arrived just after midnight at our destination. Lijiang, had just the night before been destroyed by a seven plus earthquake. I’ll spare the details. This was without doubt my most adventurous and most wonderful of journeys. I learnt a lot in those few days about humanity.


The destination, real or fictitious, for your next trip?

Off to Copenhagen to see good friends and partake in good old chit chat. Can’t beat that.



Alphagraph workshop


You’ve done multiple workshop about generative art and type (like Alphagraph in Metz), with a special attention to mix digital and print. Can you tell us more about it ? 

Certainly. I enjoy teaching and have been teaching students of graphic design for some years now. When I started, it seemed important to find links with the past. Generative design is just one approach amongst many, it is not something that will take over any particular aspect of how we design today or tomorrow. It is simply something that can enrich one’s practice and in many ways too. I always tell my students that mixing approaches makes for more interesting images. Mixing the contemporary with past technologies is a means for maintaining strong cultural and technological links with our rich past. We forget that the generative has a history. It didn’t just pop up like that. There is a tendency in the digital to see everything digital and hence everything as new. That kind of bores me.



What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Hmmm, what kind of crazy? Like spare of the moment crazy? I can’t think of anything at the moment. I’ll have to write back on a postcard to you once I’ve managed to remember THE craziest.



Dithering 03 / 03


Tell us about the series of stamps you have imagined?

I’m currently working on dithering and I’m a sucker for patterns. There is something deep, beguiling and indeed primitive about patterns that is universal amongst cultures. The technique of dithering creates some surprising and unexpected composition of patterns and I wanted to basically showcase these I guess.


What's new for you soon, a news that you'd like to talk about?

Every day is news for me. At least that is how I see things. •-) Thank you for this opportunity to write. it was a pleasure.



Dithering serie



Follow Mark on Twitter, on Flickr (for his experiments), his portfolio or on his project : Free Art Bureau


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